FERRYVILLE - An organization dedicated to assisting military veterans enjoy hunting experiences has established an ‘old school’ deer hunting camp on County C near Ferryville.
This past weekend, the Veterans Hunt Club of Wisconsin hosted their first disabled hunter at the site, when Dennis Guyer arrived from Shell Lake with his son Tom. The pair will bow hunt for deer–Dennis with a crossbow and Tom with a compound bow.
Dennis is a U.S. Army Veteran, who served in the late 60s. He has a deer hunting background, having taken a nine-point deer with a bow and an eight-point buck with a gun some years ago. The last time he hunted for deer was about five to seven years ago. Decreased mobility has limited him lately and Dennis, now 67 years old, had his leg amputated earlier this year at a VA hospital in the Twin Cities.
Dennis Guyer was quick to credit his doctor, Dr. Weber, for her help in getting the operation and prosthesis.
Dennis is still learning too walk on the prosthesis. There is no way he could tackle the rough terrain in rural Ferryville this year without the help of the Veterans Hunt Club of Wisconsin.
The club’s founder and executive director Ron Lingford was able to get Dennis into an Action Track motorized wheelchair, purchased by with U.S. Forestry Service funds and provided through Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Access Ability Wisconsin Program.
The trip to Ferryville started when Guyer’s son Josh reached out to the Veteran Hunt Club of Wisconsin. Lingford told Josh that the organization could handle setting up the hunt.
Dennis Guyer’s family worked hard at keeping the hunt a secret. Dennis thought he was just accompanying his son Tom, who was going hunting near Ferryville in southern Wisconsin. The pair had a great ride following the river down from northern Wisconsin to Ferryville.
“The terrain excited Dad more than anything,” Tom said later.
Dennis didn’t know about the plans for his hunt until he saw the sign at the entrance to the deer camp off County C, just east of Highway 35.
“I was completely surprised,” Dennis said. “It was kind of a shock. I had no clue until I saw that sign.”
The Action Track wheelchair provides incredible mobility for the user in off-pavement environments. It is controlled by a joystick and the tracked vehicle is equipped with gun and bow rests and is very adjustable to provide user comfort. The Action Track has an electric motor powered by two 12-volt batteries.
The site on County C is being provided by local resident Jay Harris. Lingford, who lives in Caledonia in Racine County, owns a construction company and has used some of his equipment to tidy up the site. The camp currently has one usable RV to stay in and there are plans to bring another onto the site soon.
The hunts are conducted on both public and private lands. Rainy weather curtailed things a bit early on, but the weather was clearing and Dennis was excited to get out into the woods, when we caught up with him on Sunday. Although he has yet to shoot a deer, several have been spotted just out of range for the crossbow.
The Veterans Hunt Club of Wisconsin has 53 hunts scheduled at this point, according to Lingford. In addition to hunting deer with guns and bows, the organization will also take veterans out hunting turkeys and ducks.
There is no cost to the veterans or their families and family members are encouraged to join the veteran in the hunt. All food and lodging is provided. The only cost to the veteran and their family is the cost of the transportation.
Lingford laughed a little in describing the Ferryville camp.
“It’s an ‘old school’ deer camp,” is the way Lingford put it. “There’s nothing fancy about it.”
Lingford is not a military veteran, but has many friends and family members who are.
The whole idea of providing a hunting experience for veterans started about seven years ago when a young man, who had done two tours of duty with the Marines, wanted to do some deer hunting. Lingford was there to help him get the opportunity.
The veteran’s name was Jake Christopher Knorr from Union Grove, Wisconsin. Knorr was the nephew of someone that Lingford knew.
“This young man wanted to learn about hunting and the outdoors,” Lingford said. It was the start of what would become the VHCW.
Knorr went on to college, where he graduated and became a respiratory therapist.
“The hunt club is about the outdoor experience,” Lingford explained. “It’s not about trophies. It’s not about killing. It’s about the outdoors and harvesting an animal.
“I want to thank the community of Crawford County,” Lingford said. “Without their help, this would not have been possible. I need to thank the landowners, the workers and the help we received from the owners of the Swing Inn and Wooden Nickel.”
Lingford also singled out Swede Knutson for his help and Jay Harris for providing the site for the deer camp.
The Veterans Hunt Club of Wisconsin relies on charitable contributions for its operations and is seeking land that can be hunted by veterans. You can follow the VHCW on Facebook or call Ron Lingford for more information at 414-788-8284.